Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Shut up already

Thoughts and pulse race in Trader Joe’s parking lot

I have this tendency to fool myself into thinking my chronic anxiety is a ruse, something I claim hyperbolically for attention, like someone declaring she has OCD because she prefers a dirty-dish-free sink. When I mention my neuroses to friends, they come in the form of tongue-in-cheek disclaimers along the lines of, “Don’t mind me, my concerns are all made up,” or, “Sorry I didn’t hear you, it’s difficult to make anything out over all this clamor in my head.” I tell myself, and others, that I refill my standing prescription for anti-anxiety meds for the convenience of having them on hand should I happen to fall into a particularly stressful situation. But I know the truth: that every human interaction is a hand on the valve to my adrenal cortex — five fingers just itching to release a tsunami of cortisol into my system should a certain word be said or a look given.

Last week I made the mistake of leaving the safety of my living room under the pretense that I was a normal person with routine reactions to standard situations. I ventured into the grocery store — for me, a veritable gauntlet of overwrought small talk and twitchy missteps, made all the more treacherous by the fact that I went alone, without David as my touchstone.

I made it through Trader Joe’s without incident. Well, without a major one. There was that guy who complimented my glasses. At first I was confused because of the odd way he’d said it: “By the way, I like your glasses.” It was the “By the way” part that threw me. “By the way” — as if we had just finished up a conversation and he wanted to get in one last thought. I immediately felt guilty for the harshness in my tone when I said, “What?” I’d heard him fine, I just didn’t understand what he was saying. He responded with a straightforward, truncated version of his first comment: “I like your glasses.”

I imagine this is the point at which a normal person would respond, “Thank you,” then smile, and walk away. But I felt the need to mitigate the coarseness of my initial reaction by becoming warm and chatty. Overly chatty. I said, “Thank you, they’re fun, actually, they’re really old, see how this part is orange? That’s supposed to be red. I’m looking to find a guy who paints cars, I mean the cool detailed designs on them, with airbrushes, because I want to get these airbrushed back to the red that they were when I bought them, they’re practically vintage now they’re so old.” A voice in my head was urging me to “Shut up already, just stop.” But I didn’t. I complimented his glasses, said they looked like wood, and inwardly chided myself for seeming overly astonished when he told me they were actually plastic with an engraved wood design. Eventually, I managed to tear myself away. I tried not to think about the exchange, to avoid obsessing over my absence of cool.

Before the glasses comment, I had been in a bubble, ignored and ignoring, just another person shopping. With my bubble popped, I found myself becoming ever more vigilant, lest I nervously babble in someone else’s face. I spotted, and then avoided an acquaintance by lingering longer than necessary in the wine aisle. Up and down, left and right, I smiled politely to everyone I passed while being careful not to make eye contact.

After executing the right amount of friendly banter with the cashier, I breathed a sigh of relief and pushed my cart, full of bags, toward my car, elated that I made it out unscathed. I had almost made it to my car when, suddenly, there appeared a smiling, familiar face before me. Familiar, and yet I couldn’t quite place it. I often tell people I need two points of context to fully recognize someone — it could be the name of a friend we have in common, a hobby, a place of work, anything, so long as there are at least two dots, so I can connect them. The line between those points is the password to my mental file with that person’s name on it. Once I have access, I’ll remember everything, down to the name of their pets. But without it, when I encounter someone out of context, I’m lost. I imagine this is how people with true face-blindness feel.

I searched for identifying markers, taking in the ballcap and shorts, and quickly decided he was an old friend from Boston. The first words out of my mouth were, “What are you doing here?” He said he didn’t know what I meant. I told him I thought he moved back to Boston. He said he’d recently taken a weekend off, but he hadn’t moved anywhere, and had never even been to Boston. I actually argued the point. “What are you talking about? You’re from Southie. Are you fucking with me?” He told me he was born and raised in San Diego. My brain spun. What is happening, how am I getting this wrong, I’m so sure...I was so sure.

He chuckled uncomfortably and said, “Is this what you’re like sober?” He introduced me to his girlfriend and asked after David. I gave a too-long answer and then we parted ways. It wasn’t until he disappeared around the corner that his odd comment about sobriety triggered a connection, and then I felt like an absolute moron. This wasn’t my friend from Boston, this was my friend José from my late-night haunt, Starlite. José, who is always dressed to the nines. The ballcap, shorts, and daylight had thrown me. I couldn’t tell which was racing faster, my pulse or my thoughts. How could I confuse two people I had known, and seen regularly, for years?

After blitzing another old friend with requests for José’s number, just to realize I already had it in my phone, I texted José an overly profuse apology, along with full breakdown of how and why I’d confused him with someone else. By the time I got home, I was so frazzled and worked up that I had a little cry to release some tension before unloading the groceries. I took a pill to calm my body, and, as I stared at my phone waiting for a text-back, I thought that next time, it might be a good idea to take that chill pill before leaving the house.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, uncovered

Nudity does more to advance an actress’s career than it does the plot

I have this tendency to fool myself into thinking my chronic anxiety is a ruse, something I claim hyperbolically for attention, like someone declaring she has OCD because she prefers a dirty-dish-free sink. When I mention my neuroses to friends, they come in the form of tongue-in-cheek disclaimers along the lines of, “Don’t mind me, my concerns are all made up,” or, “Sorry I didn’t hear you, it’s difficult to make anything out over all this clamor in my head.” I tell myself, and others, that I refill my standing prescription for anti-anxiety meds for the convenience of having them on hand should I happen to fall into a particularly stressful situation. But I know the truth: that every human interaction is a hand on the valve to my adrenal cortex — five fingers just itching to release a tsunami of cortisol into my system should a certain word be said or a look given.

Last week I made the mistake of leaving the safety of my living room under the pretense that I was a normal person with routine reactions to standard situations. I ventured into the grocery store — for me, a veritable gauntlet of overwrought small talk and twitchy missteps, made all the more treacherous by the fact that I went alone, without David as my touchstone.

I made it through Trader Joe’s without incident. Well, without a major one. There was that guy who complimented my glasses. At first I was confused because of the odd way he’d said it: “By the way, I like your glasses.” It was the “By the way” part that threw me. “By the way” — as if we had just finished up a conversation and he wanted to get in one last thought. I immediately felt guilty for the harshness in my tone when I said, “What?” I’d heard him fine, I just didn’t understand what he was saying. He responded with a straightforward, truncated version of his first comment: “I like your glasses.”

I imagine this is the point at which a normal person would respond, “Thank you,” then smile, and walk away. But I felt the need to mitigate the coarseness of my initial reaction by becoming warm and chatty. Overly chatty. I said, “Thank you, they’re fun, actually, they’re really old, see how this part is orange? That’s supposed to be red. I’m looking to find a guy who paints cars, I mean the cool detailed designs on them, with airbrushes, because I want to get these airbrushed back to the red that they were when I bought them, they’re practically vintage now they’re so old.” A voice in my head was urging me to “Shut up already, just stop.” But I didn’t. I complimented his glasses, said they looked like wood, and inwardly chided myself for seeming overly astonished when he told me they were actually plastic with an engraved wood design. Eventually, I managed to tear myself away. I tried not to think about the exchange, to avoid obsessing over my absence of cool.

Before the glasses comment, I had been in a bubble, ignored and ignoring, just another person shopping. With my bubble popped, I found myself becoming ever more vigilant, lest I nervously babble in someone else’s face. I spotted, and then avoided an acquaintance by lingering longer than necessary in the wine aisle. Up and down, left and right, I smiled politely to everyone I passed while being careful not to make eye contact.

After executing the right amount of friendly banter with the cashier, I breathed a sigh of relief and pushed my cart, full of bags, toward my car, elated that I made it out unscathed. I had almost made it to my car when, suddenly, there appeared a smiling, familiar face before me. Familiar, and yet I couldn’t quite place it. I often tell people I need two points of context to fully recognize someone — it could be the name of a friend we have in common, a hobby, a place of work, anything, so long as there are at least two dots, so I can connect them. The line between those points is the password to my mental file with that person’s name on it. Once I have access, I’ll remember everything, down to the name of their pets. But without it, when I encounter someone out of context, I’m lost. I imagine this is how people with true face-blindness feel.

I searched for identifying markers, taking in the ballcap and shorts, and quickly decided he was an old friend from Boston. The first words out of my mouth were, “What are you doing here?” He said he didn’t know what I meant. I told him I thought he moved back to Boston. He said he’d recently taken a weekend off, but he hadn’t moved anywhere, and had never even been to Boston. I actually argued the point. “What are you talking about? You’re from Southie. Are you fucking with me?” He told me he was born and raised in San Diego. My brain spun. What is happening, how am I getting this wrong, I’m so sure...I was so sure.

He chuckled uncomfortably and said, “Is this what you’re like sober?” He introduced me to his girlfriend and asked after David. I gave a too-long answer and then we parted ways. It wasn’t until he disappeared around the corner that his odd comment about sobriety triggered a connection, and then I felt like an absolute moron. This wasn’t my friend from Boston, this was my friend José from my late-night haunt, Starlite. José, who is always dressed to the nines. The ballcap, shorts, and daylight had thrown me. I couldn’t tell which was racing faster, my pulse or my thoughts. How could I confuse two people I had known, and seen regularly, for years?

After blitzing another old friend with requests for José’s number, just to realize I already had it in my phone, I texted José an overly profuse apology, along with full breakdown of how and why I’d confused him with someone else. By the time I got home, I was so frazzled and worked up that I had a little cry to release some tension before unloading the groceries. I took a pill to calm my body, and, as I stared at my phone waiting for a text-back, I thought that next time, it might be a good idea to take that chill pill before leaving the house.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Longview Manor estate built by Ralph Hurlburt

He designed dozens of distinctive houses from Point Loma to Kensington to La Mesa
Next Article

Giovanni Sgambati – an Italian Liszt

Wagner pushed for publication of Sgambati’s two piano quintets.
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close